1980s: AN ERA OF PRESERVATION AND REVITALIZATION
A study by
the American Institute of Architects, completed in 1983, recommended preservation
and adaptive reuse of the districts warehouses; these alternative
uses included loft conversions. In 1984 Victoria Frey and Sheryl Snow,
proprietors respectively of the galleries Quartersaw and BlackFish, moved
to the area and opened studios there. In 1985 the city officially recognized
the changes occurring and changed the zoning from strictly industrial
(M2) to mixed use (MX).
In 1986 developers
John Gray, Al Solheim, and Roger Paul began buying buildings in the district
and converting them into offices and lofts. The first, the four-story
brick Oregon Wool Growers Building at NW 13th and Johnson, became
Downtown Self-Storage. The area was at first marketed as an artists
area, but because rents started at 20 cents per square foot, double
what similar spaces rented for elsewhere in the city, the tenants were
more likely to be commercial artists, designers, and architects.
In 1987 about a dozen property owners banded together to form the Thirteenth Street Historic District, the first historic district created in Portland in a decade. The district was formed around the many early 20th century brick and concrete warehouses, and storage and manufacturing buildings on NW 13th Avenue. This National Register District designation provided low property taxes, an added incentive for home buyers, and perhaps influenced the city to pave some streets at this time. The loading docks, a distinguishing feature of the street, are retained and used as sidewalks.
1987 also saw the first gallery walk which was organized by Victoria Frey
and Sheryl Snow in co-operation with a sponsor, the Portland Brewing Company
located on NW Flanders Street. On a September Saturday afternoon 70 artists
opened their private studios to the public; music and food were provided
as 5,000 people visited the area enjoying the novelty of locally produced
art works. In the late 1980s as many as 150 artists lived and worked in
the Pearl District.